View Full Version : Am I the only one that prefers a steel pitchfork?

Aug. 13, 2010, 01:25 AM
I was watching the youtube clip of Kate66's barn help with one of those plastic forks that everybody seems to use nowadays and was just wondering.

I think the plastic things are curved wrong (I have to stoop funny to use one), are unbalanced, the handle is too long, the tines aren't sharp enough and they break way too easily. I can't clean a stall for nothin' with one of those things.

My preference is one of these- http://www.amazon.com/Ames-True-Temper-Manure-1896000/dp/B000BX1IWA . I've had the same fork for at least ten years. It's tough enough to fork compost and wood chips as well as manure and sawdust. On the rare occasion I have fluffy shavings (like at a show) I waste less bedding because dry shaving shake through the fork easier.

I know it's a silly question but I was just curious....

Aug. 13, 2010, 07:39 AM
I agree! The plastic forks are a complete waste but my husband keeps buying them. Ugh! I'll have to check that one out at Ames next time I'm over there.

Aug. 13, 2010, 07:45 AM
My husband and I both prefer the metal pitchfork.

Aug. 13, 2010, 07:51 AM
I HATE the metal ones and love the plastic ones. I've used the plastic ones since they came out years ago and will never go back to the metal ones (which I used for many years at my own barn until the plastic ones came out). My back doesn't hurt anymore and that makes me happy :). Mine last forever - i've had maybe three tines break over the years but that's it and I've cleaned a lot of stalls ;).


ASB Stars
Aug. 13, 2010, 07:53 AM
I love my ergonomic aluminum handles, with the plastic tines- life, easy on my back- and durable. I am just getting ready to replace the tines, but the handles are still perfect!

Aug. 13, 2010, 08:52 AM
Although I own 2 metal pitchforks I hate to use them for stall cleaning. They are way too heavy and the tines aren't close enough together. I like my plastic one. I've had the same handle on it for 18 years and have only needed to change the head once. I've found the service they give acceptible to the price I paid for it.

Aug. 13, 2010, 09:04 AM
I only have metal with varying tine numbers in my barn. My fave has 5 tines.
But I use straw, can't stand shavings or Woody-Pellets.

Never a fan of plastic even when I crossed to the dark side briefly and used shavings.

Aug. 13, 2010, 09:38 AM
I love my plastic fork... rather, I loff the handle and the feather weight. After sampling the ergonomic variety, I will never go back to a straight handle. The only thing I hate about the plastic tines is when they catch in the grass and end up flinging bits of poo as you struggle to untangle it without dropping the load.

Aug. 13, 2010, 09:51 AM
Haven't watched the video, but I'm with you on the metal manure forks! I really can't stand the plastic ones - I periodically house/farm-sit for friends and I find picking out the run-in and doing stalls is much more frustrating with their plastic forks - they're just not sturdy or stiff enough for me!
I know the metal forks are heavier than the plastic, but that's what I like about them! (I also like heavy pens and metal knitting needles and my favorite cell phone had a full metal case - I definitely prefer tools with a little bit of "heft" - lightweight plastic feels "disposable" and "breakable" to me.)

But it does seem like everybody else prefers the plastic forks, so to each their own!

And Aggie4bar, that's probably my biggest pet peeve about the plastic forks - that weird manure-bounce thing they do when they catch under something! Glad I'm not the only one who notices that!

Aug. 13, 2010, 09:51 AM
I have only steel forks: pitch forks (3 tine), straw forks (4) and manure forks ranging from 5 tine to 11 tine. My good hay fork and favourite manure fork are both older than I am but I did retire the old manure fork when the handle cracked from age. Those plastic ones are a waste of money and effort and totally useless with straw bedding.

Aug. 13, 2010, 09:56 AM
And I like both but for different reasons. I prefer the plastic tines for regular stall cleaning as the tines on the metal ones are too far apart for general stall cleaning. BUT, that said, I have a large dumpster that I put all my manure and in order to make more room I do use the metal to 'toss' the manure to the corners. I have a ramp up to the side of the dumpster so I'm actually standing hip high to the top and it's easier to push the manure around with the metal one.

I HATE the plastic ones with the scoop though. Those are really unbalanced to use. I end up using it for picking up doggy do in the yard.

I also like the metal one for working with mulch chips. :)

Paddys Mom
Aug. 13, 2010, 10:01 AM
I find that on the metal ones, the tines bend and then stick out at odd angles.

Aug. 13, 2010, 10:04 AM
Depends on what I'm picking, really--for shavings/sawdust, I prefer the plastic "apple picker" type. If it's straw (which my barn uses in winter) I prefer the wider-tined metal forks.

Aug. 13, 2010, 11:04 AM
I guess it depends on the bedding we are using. Hadn't used straw for a while, then we couldn't get sawdust. I bought some straw, could not move it with the plastic forks. Went and bought the 10-tine metal fork, worked like a charm. Had my old 6-tine metal fork, just was too wide for keeping the load on to reach the spreader. So 6-tine is saved for loose hay, garden work now. Loved the 10-tine so much I bought a second one, for when daughter and I are both cleaning.

Then we got a new bedding supplier, who provides a kind of dried, shredded wood fiber. Cheaper than sawdust, very absorbent, so we are back to the plastic forks for that. Daughter prefers the long finger plastic, while I like the stiffer kind with 3 bands across holding fingers in place. We do break some fingers each year, replace the heads for about $6 each from my stock of spares.

Had not heard of the ergonomic handles on plastic heads. I have a handle I took off a rake. I hated that rake with the ergo handle. Maybe it would work on the plastic heads.

We use steel shovels on the cement aisle. I have had the aluminum, but cement just EATS them up. When son was cleaning stalls I had to replace my aluminum shovel because they were worn thru, every six months! Just could not afford that very long, with shovels at $45 each!! I special ordered the small steel coal shovel from the local hardware store, $50 at the time. Shovel has had handle replaced once after he ran over it with tractor. Part of the learning process, as his father stood over him supervising rivet removal, fitting in new handle, riveting it back on, so son QUIT leaving tools out! The scoop part is still in excellent shape, with MANY miles of aisle cleaning done. Yeah the steel is bit heavier, but does a much better job, doesn't bend or rub thru. Stays flat ended, sharp edged for tight spots and chunking ice loose. Has a D handle. I found a very small scoop shovel later, which was perfect for small daughter to help with. She did outgrow it, but now that shovel makes a great snow shovel in my truck each winter. Again, steel is strong enough to chunk things with, get dirt for under tires on ice. Can't do that with aluminum or plastic.

We do use aluminum shovels for scooping bedding out of the bin, spreading in stalls. They don't wear down or thru on soft wood bedding.

Sometimes you hunt for the best tool, common item just does not work. We always used steel scoop shovels when I was younger, most of them were older than I was and not worn out. Now they are really hard to find.

I never saw 10-tine forks until a few years ago, now you see them often. Have been good tools for our straw use, both chopped and baled straw. Moves the load without losing any. The metal tined fork shaped like the plastic ones does not work for me, tried that on both sawdust, straw. So now an ornament tool hanging on the wall. I have a LOT of tools that hang up, just were not usable for my needs. Looked like good ideas then, recommended by others, but not helpful tools for us.

I LIKE steel tools, they live long, work hard and are pretty easy to repair. Not always that much heavier or harder to use, especially if you don't have to struggle with the loads you move because steel and wood fork is stiffer and doesn't tilt or drop things, then need pick them up again like plastic. Steel picks up the WHOLE pile of soaked straw with your first poke, instead of needing several lifting trips across to the muck tub or speader.

Aug. 13, 2010, 11:37 AM
I love my ergonomic aluminum handles, with the plastic tines- life, easy on my back- and durable. I am just getting ready to replace the tines, but the handles are still perfect!

YUP, If I am barn sitting I bring my own tools. Metal pitchforks are probably good for straw bedding though

Aug. 13, 2010, 12:06 PM
I hate the plastic forks--give me my "Missy apple picker" fork any day. My mother used to love her old 10 tine fork, though, and I wish we still had one for breaking up comporessed shavings bags.

Aug. 13, 2010, 12:20 PM
I use both. The metal fork my barn has it good for the stalls that have horses that create a nasty carpet out of hay that they've peed and pooped on. Plastic forks can't wrangle that stuff and there's multiple horses that do that. For most stalls though, the plastic forks work fine. My trainer/BO has figured out that certain plastic forks are more durable than others, so she buys those.

Aug. 13, 2010, 12:37 PM
I've got the aluminum handled ergonomic ones also and love them. They are
both at least 8 years old and in prefect shape.

Aug. 13, 2010, 07:09 PM
I can't stand the plastic ones, any of them. I have Stall Skins so I have to be careful with what I use--I have a special fork for rubber matting (rounded, looped ends instead of individual tines) that I love. I have two of them--they're getting hard to find so I'll be pretty bummed if/when I can't find new ones.

Aug. 13, 2010, 07:39 PM
I use the Durafork... Find the metal forks are just too heavy, although they are more effective.

Aug. 13, 2010, 11:12 PM
Love a 5 tined fork for straw bedding.
Used to use a steel 20 tined fork for shavings when I did barn work for a living.

But using a steel fork for Arabs bedded on pellets doesn't work for me. Everything falls through.

Aug. 14, 2010, 04:45 PM
I like the metal fork for straw stalls, and the plastic fork (but NOT the 'basket' kind, can't stand those) for sawdust/shavings stalls.

Aug. 15, 2010, 12:27 AM
Hate the plastic ones!

Aug. 15, 2010, 08:57 AM
We use the plastic basket pitchforks but we use sawdust. You just scoop up a huge pile of sawdust and shake the crap out of it without worrying about loosing any poo. Saves a ton of time.

Aug. 15, 2010, 11:21 AM
We go with the plastic forks for sawdust/shaving in the stalls. So light and easy on my back. I am older and closer to the ground so I customized my fork.:) I found that long handle actually worked against my back. So we cut it down and put a D-handle on it. It is more like a shovel now and give me leverage when I lift...so much easier on my back. We customized two, one for me and hubby. The seem indestructible...haven't broken a tine in years.

Aug. 15, 2010, 03:44 PM
My wrists can't handle metal pitchforks. Even the weight difference between the plastic basket-type fork and a regular plastic fork really affects me. Definitely prefer the plastic ones by far. We use shavings, though (and some picking in grass). My opinion could be different if I were on straw or pellets or something instead though.

Aug. 15, 2010, 03:58 PM
If anyone made a metal fine tined basket fork...I'd buy one in a heart beat! :yes:

I don't use a metal fork now for the same reasons Ghazzu states...I bed on pellets. I need tines closer together and prefer a basket head on the fork for sifting more bedding at one time. Weight isn't an issue for me, I prefer a better workout anyways.

And at least if you bend the tine on a metal fork, you can bend it back. :winkgrin:

My husband bought me an ergonomic plastic fork...can't use those either. They only work for people of the right height that matches where the bend in the handle is. When the fork is taller than you, the bend is in the wrong place to be effective.

tabula rashah
Aug. 15, 2010, 04:25 PM
Old fashioned pitchfork for straw. Plastic for shavings.

Aug. 16, 2010, 05:46 PM
I hate them too. They're too thick and awkward to get under the droppings/wet spots.

I use these. (http://www.fynalite.co.uk/s_shave.html)